Report on ex-Chinese soldier’s philanthropy in Xinjiang angers Uyghur activists — Radio Free Asia
Chinese media praise for a Han Chinese as a “model philanthropist” helping minority students in Xinjiang, northwest China, has outraged Uyghur activists who note that China has imprisoned many Uyghur philanthropists in part of a mass internment campaign that created many orphans.
Shen Jianjia from Tikes County in Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) was praised for helping 175 Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz students to live in his home for free over the past 30 years as they completed their studies in an article published on Tengritagh (Tianshan), the official website of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) government.
The article describes Shen returning home on the evening of February 15, the Lantern Festival in China, after celebrating the Lunar New Year in another part of the country. He and the four students, who live in his house while attending school, and their parents have gathered to celebrate the holiday with him.
With “unreserved warmth, Shen has helped children for many years without any regrets,” the article said.
A student had lived in Shen’s home for seven years, from when he started middle school until he graduated from the local vocational and technical school, according to the report.
“We celebrated a happy Lantern Festival together,” Shen said in the post.
The retired People’s Liberation Army soldier, who is now a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official in Tikes County, moved to Xinjiang with his parents and five siblings when he was two years old, according to the report.
In recent years, he has received awards from the Chinese government for being an “example of ideological and moral construction”, a “model of ethnic unity” and a “philanthropist”.
Ilshat Hassan Kokbore, vice chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), expressed disgust at what he said was propaganda about the former Xinjiang soldier.
“A Chinese colonialist PLA soldier helping indigenous children in East Turkestan has appeared in Chinese media while millions of indigenous Uyghurs have been imprisoned in camps and prisons, and their children have been deprived of parental care and became the subjects of Chinese colonial boarding schools. which are called ‘kindergartens of angels’ and ‘schools of angels’,” he said.
East Turkestan is the Uyghur’s preferred name for the Xinjiang region.
Kokbore said the Chinese government needed such propaganda to cover up its colonial policies and the genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang in light of accusations of genocide and crimes against humanity by some members of the international community.
“Their goal is very obvious – to cover up the genocide they are committing and to show that the CCP and its government are the savior and helper of the natives and to tell the world that what they are doing is right instead of wrong,” he said. said.
Tragic fate of Uyghur philanthropists
RFA has previously reported that authorities have arrested and imprisoned Uyghur philanthropists who have made significant contributions to education and helped children in Xinjiang, as part of the Chinese government’s campaign to wipe out Uyghur society and culture.
Many of them are among the 1.8 million mostly Muslim Uyghurs and other Turkish minorities believed to be held in a network of detention camps in Xinjiang since 2017. Beijing has said the camps are vocational training centers and denied widespread and documented allegations that he mistreated Muslims living in Xinjiang.
Kokbore said Shen Jianjia’s story stands in stark contrast to the plight of Uyghur philanthropists such as Nutay Haji and others who have focused their work on helping Uyghur children and students.
Nurtay Hajim, a respected businessman who has amassed a fortune through an international tourism and transport business, funded the establishment and operation of the Nurtay Iskender School for orphans in Ghulja. The school provided free accommodation, food and education to Uyghur children whose parents had died or been imprisoned. He was reportedly sentenced to a long prison term in 2018.
Another Uighur philanthropist, Ablimit Hoshur Halis Haji, was arrested in Urumqi (Wulumuqi), the capital of Xinjiang, in 2018 by a state security force unit known as Guobao. His detention is believed to be directly linked to his 1994 founding of the Halis Foundation, a charity whose aim was to help elite Uyghur students gain access to higher education and financial aid to study abroad. .
“Our philanthropists… who opened schools for orphans, including Chinese orphans, and who had done much better than this Chinese soldier, were imprisoned and turned into criminals by this Chinese regime,” Kokbore said. “It’s about covering up their crime of genocide.”
Kokbore condemned China’s reverence for Shen Jianjia, because he was a member of the PLA, which has been the “backbone of repression” in Xinjiang since the Chinese Communist Party occupied the region after 1949.
“By choosing and praising a former Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldier, the Chinese colonialist government was trying to justify the Chinese PLA’s crimes against the Uyghurs,” he said.
Turghunjan Alawudun, director of the religious affairs committee of the WUC, said China’s story of Shen as a form of domestic propaganda is aimed at undermining the religious beliefs, customs and culture of Uyghurs and that the government does not does not respect the religious freedom of ethnic minority groups. he claims so.
“This is another lie of the Chinese government saying that China is helping the indigenous children of Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uyghurs,” he said. “As they commit genocide against the Uyghurs, they tell this lie that a Chinese soldier is an angel helping children.”
“With this propaganda, China is trying to accelerate the assimilation of indigenous children,” he added.
The example of the Chinese philanthropist “is an open example of the Chinese policy of exterminating the Muslim faith of these children,” he told RFA.
“Uyghur children eating at a Chinese’s house goes against our belief system in Islam,” he said. “The average Uyghur parent is against letting their children eat in a non-Muslim Chinese household.”
Translated by Uyghur service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.